Sky turns blood red in Indonesia

Fallout from open burning

Christopher Brito – CBS News

The sky over a province of Indonesia turned into dark blood red over the weekend following a surge of forest fires throughout the country. Social media users captured the smoky haze, which was caused by open burning in Indonesia.

In the province of Jambi, the sky appeared to turn a reddish hue and conditions made it hard to breathe. A social media user caught the dramatic scene in a video she posted to Twitter.

“This afternoon is not night,” Zuni Shofi Yatun Nisa wrote. “This is earth, not planet Mars. This is not in outer space. It’s us who breathe with lungs, not with gills. We humans need clean air, not smoke.”

Another user also made it clear in a video addressed to Tesla founder Elon Musk that it wasn’t a footage out of Mars, but of Jambi.

Professor Koh Tieh Yong of the Singapore University of Social Sciences explained to the BBC that the reason for the red color has to do with certain particles that are present during the haze. He said the fact that photos were taken in the afternoon also gave the appearance of the sky looking redder.

According to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), a European Union-based weather service that provides data on atmospheric composition, thousands of acres of ecologically important land are being burned and causing a toxic haze.

Mark Parrington, a European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts senior scientist at the CAMS, said in a recent review of data that they are closely monitoring the intensity of the fires and smoke emitting from Indonesia.

“Approximately half of the local fire season having passed, it is clear that these fires are unusual and are causing significant concern,” Parrington said. “In Indonesia, burning peat, which can smolder at low temperatures and underground, is the most significant concern as it is releasing carbon which has been stored for tens of thousands of years.”

CAMS says the air quality in the span from August 1 to September 18 of this year is thought to be “equally as poor” as the 2015 fires, which were considered to be particularly devastating for Indonesia and surrounding South Asian nations.

Much like the Amazon, the fires in Indonesia have been started deliberately in order to clear land for agriculture, but especially for paper and palm oil.

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